pretty good, yeah. in my opinion, pretty good enough. if you can reliably keep that up then pretty good enough to load - but ONLY LOAD INSOFAR AS YOU CAN MAINTAIN YOUR FORM.
i went with 5x5 for no other reason than that is what was recommended to me.
Ripptoe has some stuff near the back of starting strength about how 5x5 is a good trade-off for beginners. 5 reps is at the higher end of the strength training range and the higher reps help ingrain the movement. He thinks that 6 reps is a bit much, though, and that is where form really does start to break down.
Since then… I’ve trained a lot of 6x3 for Olympic Lifting to give me experience with higher weights (I can move more tonnage on 6x3 than on 5x5). Now when I do a set of 5 I do a fairly smooth triple (3 second descent, pause, power up. Around 1 second to top up breath). Then I huff and puff before rep 4. Then I huff and puff and curse 5x5 before getting the last one out.
I’ve been thinking something useful for me to do is to do 5x5 with the tempo scheme of my 3x3. In all honestly… I think my mental focus needs a bit of training to pull that off lolz.
doing squats properly requires a great deal of mental focus. i personally find with squats… doing an air squat properly (with good muscular tension and control) is about as hard as squatting around 80% my max. Don’t under-estimate the power of the basics. (That being said, I think that possibly the best way to get a perfect air squat is to get a competent 100kg squat).
Pause at the bottom by all means.
Think of it as ‘use the muscles, spare the joints’. The bottom of the (loaded) squat is meant to be a position of muscular tension. Your body naturally prefers not to do that (it is metabolically costly). It is easier to relax and allow ones lumbar position to shift. It is hard to learn how to use the muscles to keep the lumbar position tight. You should be able to bounce (from the muscle stretch reflex) lightly into and out of your bottom position just below parallel.
I’d say the most important thing for you is to really learn what that sensation feels like of your holding your lumbar arch tight and not allowing it to get pulled out. That is the precondition for anything else. HOLD YOUR LUMBAR ARCH TIGHT and play with a bunch of different strategies for getting the depth you want, by all means.
I’d suggest you figure out depth early on. Use that as precondition 2, even. In the sense that if you spend the time getting it right now then you are unlikely to have to worry about it later. I think that the thing that most people find hardest about squats is down the track… Taking enough weight off the bar to squat to depth. You will never have to worry about that if you never allow yourself to squat high.
(If it helps any, a little weight on the bar should actually help push you down which will help you sit into the squat. Don’t be afraid to take a couple weeks more to work on your squat before getting serious about loading… I find that the ‘sitting into the hip flexors’ 3 second descent… Actually tears up my legs pretty good… LIke slow negatives on the pull-up bar… If you aren’t used to it, it is an adaptive stimulus).